First Days

First few days in as sow farm.... Whew!!

Ray Rankin, Eastern Allamakee Agriculture/Industrial Technology teacher, is interning for six weeks at Gruber Ridge Ag located outside of Lansing, Iowa which is a 2,500 head sow farm managed by Waukon Feed Ranch.  When asked why he wanted to work at a pig farm Mr. Rankin said, "I have zero experience with swine, and since Iowa is the nation's leader in swine production I wanted to learn some things about it that I could take back to my classroom to share with my students.  What better way than hands on!" 

I have learned a lot and didn't realize everything that takes place in a sow farm (a barn where adult females are bred and give birth to piglets).  There is a lot of bio security precautions that are followed everyday like showering in and showering out which helps to prevent the pigs from getting sick.  There is TONS of paperwork and record keeping that is involved which is important to constantly better the genetics and production practices at the farm.

I learned how to take care of piglets after they are born.  From making sure each piglet has the proper nutrients to tattooing in order to identify the piglet throughout its life cycle, everything they do is for the well-being and health of the sows and piglets.  The first day I watched the others do processing, but the second day I jumped right in.  Although I felt much slower than everyone else, I hope to improve as the summer goes on.   I also assisted with a caesarean where we were able to save 7 piglets.  All the employees are highly trained and are capable of doing whatever is needed.  I have a new found respect for the swine industry and the people that work in this area.  It is a very labor intensive occupation.  I can't wait to see what else I learn in the weeks to come.  Keep following my blog each Wednesday to get an inside look at what really happens in a sow farm and be sure to share to get the word out!  

-Ray Rankin, Eastern Allamakee Agriculture/Industrial Technology Teacher